EXTRA TIME ON MY SIDE
Former representative rugby league and rugby union footballer Lote Tuqiri still enjoys both codes
Aged 19, Tuqiri made his first-grade rugby league debut with the Brisbane Broncos. He played six State of Origin games in 2001 and in 2002 went on to play for the Kangaroos. In 2002 he switched to rugby union, winning 67 caps for Australia and playing in two World Cups. He returned to rugby league in 2010 and retired after winning the grand final with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014. He now is an owner of HooZu, an “influencer” marketing agency, does ambassadorial work for the Broncos and lives in Brisbane.
I grew up in … I was born in Fiji and my father came to Brisbane to play rugby union for GPS. We came over a year later when I was three. We lived in West End for a while and then moved to Woodridge out at Logan. They got Dad a job with Queensland Rail where he worked his whole life. I got picked up by the Broncos and put on a scholarship when I was 16. I played at Souths Sunnybank for a year, then Logan Brothers. My first first-grade match was against the Cronulla Sharks at (the then) ANZ Stadium (now the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre at Nathan, in Brisbane’s south).
I thought I would be … I wasn’t thinking about careers when I was young. I loved playing footy but never played in a junior club until I was 15. I had to go church; my family is quite religious. I would like to have played but my parents said no.
My most treasured possession is … my family. I’m married (to Rebekka) with three boys, Samson, 11, Emosi, 8, and Maximilian, nine months. The word that best describes me is … quiet.
My favourite smell is … leaves from the lemon myrtle tree. I used to love scrunching them up and smelling them. I still do it if I see one of the trees; the smell takes me back to childhood.
A book I really enjoyed is … As a child I loved The BFG (by Roald Dahl). It’s coming out in a movie soon and I think I want to see it more than the kids do. I like reading about people’s experiences – biographies and autobiographies.
Running out at Suncorp Stadium in a Maroon
jersey is … There was a campaign for Origin 10 or 20 years ago where the players were 10 foot tall and bulletproof. That’s how it feels. You’re walking on air, it’s what you’ve always wanted to do. It’s everything you’d think it would be.
How does it feel watching now; do you wish
you were out there? … I guess you do, you wish you were out there doing it. Now I watch it with my son Samson; he was born in Sydney, he’s a Blue. He plays league out at Easts Juniors at Holland Park (on Brisbane’s southside). He enjoys it, he’s a handy little player. Emosi plays as well.
The most nerve-wracking game I ever played
was … grand finals. I played in two NRL finals and two Super Rugby finals, and in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final. They’re all in the mix but probably the 2014 NRL one (for South Sydney). I’d actually broken a bone in my shoulder the week before. I was worried about letting my teammates down. It was the mental game that week, I was talking myself through how I would get through the game. Canterbury were a physical team. I did have a big pad on there, it looked like a pack of smokes. Even before the game all I was thinking was if this gets a bad knock, I’ll be off. But it went fine.
The code I preferred playing was … rugby league, because as a winger you get the ball more often and you run with it more. Sometimes rugby is a forward-dominated game and you don’t get the ball that much. I played in an era where they kicked a lot and played the territory game. I watch both, I have no preference. I also really enjoy watching the Rugby Sevens.
Life after football feels … good, physically; I’m not walking around bruised and battered and my body has healed. I’m enjoying spending a lot more time at home with my kids and family.
Exercise now is … sometimes hard to find time and motivation to fit in. It used to be enjoyable doing it with 30 other blokes, now you’ve got to find motivation and then do it yourself. The Broncos old boys play soccer on a Friday morning at six. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of good banter, the old jokes start coming back out, it’s quite enjoyable and then we go and have a coffee.
I relax by … sitting in front of the TV and switching off and getting into series. I love
Game of Thrones at the moment. My wife and I like doing that together and we like going to the movies. My next challenge is … with this business, getting it off the ground and making it successful.
My greatest fear is … failure. (It’s) always been a big driver at different times when I was playing. And it’s a totally different ball game now. My last meal would be … barbecued mud crab; I had one at Sails at Noosa and it was unbelievable. The point of life is … enjoying it. Tuqiri appears at Jupiters Hotel & Casino, Gold Coast, on Wednesday as part of Origin festivities and at the Treasury Casino and Hotel Brisbane event on July 13. www.treasurybrisbane.com.au/maroonkingdom
PLAYING STATE OF ORIGIN FOOTBALL AT SUNCORP STADIUM WAS LIKE WALKING ON AIR; IT’S EVERYTHING YOU’D THINK IT WOULD BE